Ancients / Burning Ghats / Nylithia / Cathar / Graves @ Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver BC, March 23, 2012

Ancients

By Kyle Harcott, except where noted. Photos by Ted Reckoning

It promised to be an epic night. With a good portion of Hellbound West (Rob Hughes/Cara Cross/yours truly) in the house, plus Mr. Palmerston representing the eastern faction, there was a definite buzz in the air for this showcase gig from local faves Ancients. On the cusp of putting out their reportedly-megalithic debut full-length, Ancients rented the Rickshaw for the night, brought a few friends’ bands along for the ride, and drew a pretty good crowd for their showcase.

Sean Palmerston: Since I was halfway across the country, I figured that if I was going to a show I might as well see the whole thing. I arrived early enough to see the two openers of the night, the metal-coreish Graves and the tepid, sometimes hilarious grind of Cathar. The former was a young, eager band that looks to be heading in the right direction under the leadership of their lead vocalist Courtney Karg. This woman has some talent, she fronts the band like a seasoned vet and definitely could have a bright future in metal. Cathar, on the other hand, plays a punk-influenced take on grindcore that I loved, although I could see more traditional metal fans having a big problem with it as it isn’t as structured as many typical metal fans would prefer. The singer was also the highlight of the band, talking gibberish to himself between each song and just being really, really weird. I liked it a lot. Okay, now back to Kyle about the rest of the show

I got there late, regrettably missing the first two bands, but just in time to catch hyperthrashers Nylithia take to the stage. While I’ve heard their name praised in local circles a whole bunch, I’d not seen them live myself – but from what I’d heard of them, I had a feeling they would not disappoint. Sure enough, in no time, their breakneck vintage of straight-up thrash whipped the crowd into frenzy. Little circle pits erupted here and there, and many a flowing mane windmilled for rippers like ‘Xenomorph’, and ‘Accelerated Decrepitation’. But the big guns came later in the set, when the band summoned forth the ‘Trainsaw’, complete with prop, for the crowd to mangle and mosh to pieces. Never underestimate the power of cardboard and pool noodles, kids. Nylithia didn’t and the crowd loved them for it – ‘Trainsaw’ went down a treat, and Nylithia cemented their place as local thrash masters.

Another band I’d been intending to see for a while now, Burning Ghats brought their violent (shit, downright abusive) A-game strain of crusty thrashgrind to the Rickshaw this night – and proceeded to tear a blistered hole right down the centre of the venue. Pummeling through a filth-coated set of precisely-controlled chaos, much of it culled from their recent Different Names for the Same Face seven-inch, Ghats were a show of unstoppable force onstage. Hurricanes of feedback, d-beat, and guttural growls and snarls lambasted the audience, just relentless. Burning Ghats are very, very good at making weapons-grade crustcore.

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Which pretty much set the stage for Ancients, who, I must say, were on fire this night; with this being a showcase gig for them, the boys really knocked it out of the park. Every riff was twenty-ton-megalithic, every vocal harmony sublime – and luckily, the Rickshaw’s sound system managed to make it all absolutely crystalline. Tracks like ‘Overthrone’ and ‘Faith and Oath’ really shone, painting Ancients in a stellar, Mastodonic light – except with slightly more meat on their riffs. This was only my second time seeing the band, but while the first time I saw them I was blown away, this set was leagues beyond that show. Maybe part of it was seeing them up on the Rickshaw’s big stage, because Ancients certainly commanded it from the get-go. But your stage presence is only as good as your material, and from what I heard from Ancients this night made it clear that their forthcoming album is going to be monstrous. But in addition to all that they have going for them (material, riffs, hooks), the Ancients guys simply just wield a certain acumen onstage, and that command presence serves them well up there.

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As impeccable and powerful as Ancients’ set was, the finale arrived to blow everyone away. For their last song, Ancients brought out a couple of special guests, vocalist Kyle Scott from Nylithia, and bassist Scott Watts from the one and only Sacrifice, to perform a scorching cover of Sacrifice’s ‘Re-Animation’, bringing the house down with legendary Canuck thrash. Everybody, accordingly, went nuts – it was a stellar ending to an amazing gig. Mark my words, I predict big things for this band around the corner. They’ve gotten too good to keep just to Vancouver. If you have the chance, see them soon.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.